Different exits at different prices

Contact: Brenon Daly

Imperva’s pending IPO offers a fairly intriguing counterpoint to the trade sale of rival Guardium nearly two years ago. In 2009, both companies would have been rather similarly sized (basically, $35-40m) and posting roughly comparable growth rates.

Rather than continue as a stand-alone vendor, however, Guardium took a relatively rich bid from IBM for what we understand was about $232m, or about 6 times trailing sales. For a deal that was announced in November 2009, when the overall market was only starting to recover from the credit crisis, Guardium’s valuation looked positively platinum. (It was even more shiny when we consider that the Boston-based company raised just $21m in venture backing.)

But now with Imperva’s IPO, we may well get to see what Guardium might have been worth if it had opted for the other exit. (Obviously, there are a lot of flaws built into standing Imperva as a proxy for Guardium, and doing so glosses over the impact of time and risk on the return. But, arguably, it’s still a useful exercise.)

Nonetheless, assuming that Imperva can garner roughly the same trailing valuation that Guardium got in its sale, that would imply an initial valuation of about $330m – or roughly $100m more than its rival’s clearing price. That $330m would work out to about 4.5x this year’s expected revenue, which seems like a reasonable starting point for Imperva when it does hit the NYSE. (See our speciual report on Imperva’s offering.)